Archive for February, 2012

You go longer

In recent posts I have pointed out that in each of the last two years, Phillies starters have thrown at least 70% of the total innings pitched by the team. They’ve also thrown at least 1,000 innings each of the past two years.

To get 1,000 innings from your starting pitchers over 162 games, they need to average about 6.17 innings per start.

Will the starters throw 1,000 innings again in 2012? They’re going to need to keep Halladay, Hamels and Lee healthy and making a whole lot of starts if they are. In 2011, Hallady and Lee combined to make 64 starts and throw 466 1/3 innings. That’s about 7.29 innings per start. In the other 98 games, starters averaged 6.11 innings per start. 6.11 innings per start over 162 games is about 990 innings.

In 2011, Halladay, Hamels and Lee combined to make 95 starts in which they threw 682 1/3 innings (7.18 innings per start). Pitchers other than that trio combined to make 67 starts and threw 382 innings, which is 5.70 innings per start.

Hamels was the member of that group who threw the fewest innings per start in 2011 and he went about 6.87 — if your starters averaged 6.87 innings per start over 162 games, they would throw about 1,113 over 162 starts. As I mentioned above, the non-Halladay, Lee and Hamels starters for the Phils in 2011 averaged 5.70 innings per start. 5.70 innings per start over 162 games is 923 innings from your starting pitchers — that would have been 16th of the 16 NL teams in 2011 (as it was, the Pirates were the team that saw their starters go the fewest number of total innings at 923 1/3).

Roy Oswalt won’t be a Phillie in 2012, at least not to start the year, which seems sure to be a blow to the total number of innings thrown by the starters for the year. Oswalt was well off his career mark for innings pitched per start in 2011, but still averaged 6.04 innings in his 23 starts, a mark that was fourth-best on the team behind Halladay, Lee and Hamels.

It’s not going to happen, but the point for today is that if you wanted to make a case for Joel Piniero in the rotation for the Phils, a big part of it would likely be that he is a good bet to go a lot deeper into games than Worley or Kendrick.

Here’s a look at some of the guys who we could see starting games for the Phillies this year as well as for the former Phil Oswalt. Guys that have been in both the AL and NL have separate entries for their career and NL-only.

Pitcher GS IP IP/Start
Oswalt 326 2135 2/3 6.55
Piniero 263 1639 1/3 6.23
Piniero NL 68 423 1/3 6.22
Blanton 198 1228 2/3 6.21
Blanton NL 80 479 5.99
Bush NL 144 859 5.97
Bush 187 1101 2/3 5.89
Worley 23 135 5.87
Kendrick 98 547 2/3 5.59

First of all, none of those guys on the list comes very close to going as deep into games as Oswalt does. But Piniero is the closest. Piniero was terrible last year, throwing to a 5.10 ERA over his 24 starts and going about 5.74 innings per start. In 2010, though, Piniero averaged 6.62 innings per start over his 23 outings for the Angels while throwing to a 3.84 ERA.

Kendrick doesn’t have much chance to start the year in the rotation barring an injury, but he does seem a good bet to start some games for the Phils this year. In 2011 he started 15 and went 5.53 innings per start, a little worse than his career mark of 5.59.

The rotation to start the year is almost likely to be Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Blanton and Worley. As mentioned above, Halladay, Lee and Hamels are a pretty fantastic trio to have at the top of the rotation if you’re looking to have your starters pitch deep into games. Aside from who’s going to be healthy and stay healthy, the real questions in the rotation for the Phils are Blanton and Worley.

Last year Blanton made eight starts for the Phils and threw an average of 4.79 innings per start. This misleading, though. He made a small number of starts and two of them were starts by committee at the end of the year when he had been pitching out of the bullpen in which he threw two innings. If Blanton doesn’t go close to or more than six innings a start in 2012, it’s going to be a symptom of a bigger problem. Other symptoms will be a ballooning era and a bunch of guys from the other team running around and around the bases.

Worley, though, is another matter. He went 5.95 innings per start last year and I think it’s likely he’ll be near that mark or worse in 2012. There is, of course, an issue with the age of the pitcher and the number of innings they throw per start. A good example of that is Dave Bush’s career and NL numbers, which show he has thrown more innings per start in the NL than he has in the DH-loving American League. A big part of that was the workload management he saw early in his career — for example, with the Blue Jays in 2005 at age 25, Bush thew just 134 innings in 24 starts, or about 5.58 innings per start. Those numbers may have more to do about not wanting to push him too hard at an early age than the number of innings he could have thrown.

The Phils play Florida State this afternoon. This from the Phillies web site says that righty Austin Hyatt will start with Utley, Ruiz and Polanco not in the starting lineup. The lineup posted in that article suggests Pierre will DH, Brown will play left and Wigginton third with Mayberry at first and Martinez at second.

If I get one wish for Spring Training it’s that nobody gets hurt. If I get two wishes, number two is that Domonic Brown tears it up.

Ryan Howard saw a foot surgeon yesterday.

Shane Victorino sure seems to want to stay in Philadelphia.

It’s been 14 years that are gone forever and are otherwise unremarkable

In my previous post, I pointed out that Phillie starters led the NL in innings pitched in 2011 with 1,064 2/3. So when was the last time an NL team saw its starters throw that many innings? 1998, when the Braves did it.

Here’s the list of the teams that led the league in innings by starting pitcher over the past 14 years:

Year Team IP by starters
1064 2/3
1035 1/3
1003 2/3
983 1/3
968 2/3
1030 1/3
1059 1/3
1007 2/3
1040 1/3
1056 2/3
1074 2/3

In the past six seasons, the only NL team other than the Phillies to get 1,000 innings from their starters is the 2009 St Louis Cardinals.

No team has gotten more innings from their starter since the 1998 Atlanta Braves threw 1,074 2/3. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Danny Neagle all made at least 26 starts for the Braves that year and all of them threw an average of at least 6.45 innings per start. Maddux led the group, making 34 starts in which he threw 251 innings, which is about 7.38 innings per start.

In the DL-loving American League, getting a thousand innings from your starters has happened a little more often in recent history. In each of the past two seasons there were four AL teams that saw their starters toss a 1,000 frames. The Mariners, White Sox and Angels have all had their starters go a thousand innings in each of the last two years while the Rays and Red Sox have each done it once.

This suggests the Phils are going to work more on bunting and mentions Rollins, Victorino, Michael Martinez and Juan Pierre as bunt-for-a-hit candidates. Really hoping we don’t see Victorino bunting 15-20 more times a year in 2012.

The article linked above also says that Conteras’s bullpen session went well yesterday and he could still be ready for Opening Day.

This article suggests that Brian Sanches and David Herndon might be battling for a bullpen spot. I do like Sanches and think there’s a chance he can help the Phils this year, but have some trouble forgetting him allowing four home runs in relief the night the Phils lost their ten thousandth game in team history.

Danys Baez retired. Between 2010 and 2011, Baez made 80 relief appearances for the Phils in which he threw to a 5.81 ERA with a 1.60 ratio.

Up, up, up

As I pointed out in this post from last January, in 2010 the Phillies asked their relievers to throw just 421 innings. Not only was that the lowest number of innings for any NL team in 2010, but it was also the fewest number of innings any NL team had thrown since the 2005 Cardinals bullpen threw 397 2/3.

In 2011, the Phils again threw the fewest relief innings in the NL, but dropped their bullpen innings even lower to 412 1/3.

Here’s how many innings the starters and relievers have thrown for the Phils over the past ten years:

Year IP Starters IP Relievers Total IP % Starters % Relievers
2011 1064 2/3 412 1/3 1477 72.1 27.9
2010 1035 1/3 421 1456 1/3 71.1 28.9
2009 963 2/3 492 1455 2/3 66.2 33.8
2008 966 2/3 483 1449 2/3 66.7 33.3
2007 938 1/3 520 1458 1/3 64.3 35.7
2006 921 1/3 539 1460 1/3 63.1 36.9
2005 957 478 1435 66.7 33.3
2004 922 1/3 540 1/3 1462 2/3 63.1 36.9
2003 969 474 2/3 1443 2/3 67.1 32.9
2002 949 1/3 500 1/3 1449 2/3 65.5 34.5

So in 2011, 72.1% of the innings thrown by the Phillies were thrown by their starting pitchers. That’s the highest percentage it’s been for the team over the past ten years. In four of the past five seasons, the starters for the team have thrown more innings (and a higher percentage of the innings compared to the relievers) than they did in the previous season.

The percentage of innings thrown by starters presumably would have been higher in 2011 had Oswalt made more starts.

While we’re reminiscing about posts from last year, remember this one where I looked at the average number of starts the group of Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt had made over the past five seasons? I’m guessing you don’t, but the range for the group for the previous five years going into 2011 was 107-138, the average for the previous five years was 124 and the average for the three previous years was 138.

In 2011, Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt combined to make 118 starts. Halladay and Lee made 32 each, Hamels 31 and Oswalt 23. Oswalt came in to 2011 having averaged 31.6 starts a season over the past five seasons.

Charlie Manuel said that Ryan Howard had a “little setback” in his recovery. Pretty much everyone in the from trainers to GMs went all there’s-nothing-to-see-here after that.

The article linked above also points out that both Joel Piniero and Juan Pierre can ask for their release if they’re not on the major league-roster by March 31.

Forget the Howard setback-not-a-setback stuff. In the things that should absolutely terrify you category, I offer the following quote from Amaro on Juan Pierre: “He had a very, very good year last year. He had more hits than anybody on our team.” In 2011, Pierre on-based .329. He hit .279 and slugged .327, posting an OPS of .657 in a season where he got at least 700 plate appearances for the second year in a row. As I pointed out in this post, his isolated power of .049 was 146th of the 146 players in either league with 500 plate appearances. He’s really not a good choice for left field, even if you don’t have John Mayberry, Domonic Brown and Laynce Nix in your organization.

This says Cliff Lee threw on Sunday, showed no signs of an abdominal strain and will throw again tomorrow.

Can’t we do both?

The past few posts have looked at a couple of areas where John Mayberry has been outstanding over the past two seasons — since he’s joined the Phils, Mayberry has hit home runs at a very high rate and also seen a large percentage of his hits go for extra-bases given his batting average.

On area where he’s a little off early in his career is the number of walks he’s drawing for a guy who has hit homers at such a high rate. For his career, Mayberry now has 369 plate appearances in which he has hit 21 home runs, which is 5.69% of his plate appearances. He has walked in just 29 of his 369 plate appearances, though, which is just 7.86%. And that percentage is low for a guy hitting home runs at that rate.

Here are the walks and home run rates of the ten players in either league from 2011 who got 200 plate appearances and homered in at least 5.69% of them (sorted by the number of plate appearances):

Curtis Granderson
Mark Teixeira
Jose Bautista
Albert Pujols
Mark Reynolds
Adrian Beltre
Mike Napoli
Chris Heisey
Andruw Jones
Brent Lillibridge
Group Total

Ten players hit home runs in at least 5.69% of their plate appearances in 2011. That group combined to get 5,004 plate appearances in which they walked 577 times, which is 11.53%. Of the ten, Mayberry’s career walk rate of 7.86% is better than just two of the members of the group, Beltre and Heisey, and about the same as Lillibridge’s.

In 2010 there was nobody who got 200 plate appearances, homered in at least 5.69% of them and walked in less than Mayberry’s career rate of 7.86% of plate appearances.

Jose Bautista
Jim Thome
Paul Konerko
Albert Pujols
Miguel Cabrera
Adam Dunn
Russell Branyan
Andruw Jones
Edwin Encarnacion
Joey Votto

Encarnacion was close, but still managed to top the Mayberry’s walk rate by a small margin.

It’s important to remember that Mayberry’s walk rate was terrible in 2009, when he walked twice in 60 plate appearances in his first action in the majors. Since 2009 it has been a lot better. In 2010 and 2011 combined, Mayberry walked in 27 of his 309 plate appearances, which is about 8.74%.

Over the last two year’s, Mayberry’s walk rate is already above his walk rate while in the minor leagues, so I’m not sure how much we should expect it to rise. It’s still just a tiny number of chances for Mayberry at the major league level, but in the chances he’s had he has hit the ball out of the yard with alarming frequency — both compared to the rest of baseball and compared to his own numbers in the minors.

This article from the Phillies web site says that Roy Oswalt is very interested in returning to the Phils. Sounds good to me.

This article suggests that Oswalt may be looking to skip the early part of the year and join a team around midseason.

Kevin Frandsen, who ruptured his Achillies in March, 2008, suggests it might take a year to a year and a half to fully recover from that injury in this article.

The same article linked above seems to suggest that Rich Dubee thinks that Jake Diekman has a better fastball than his fellow lefty Antonio Bastardo.

It also says that Justin De Fratus remains sidelined with a sore right elbow.

There’s not much about Utley’s ongoing issues with his right knee that sound very good.

And if Mayberry can just keep pace wtih Matt Downs, the Phils might be in business

In a previous post I pointed out that there are not many players over the last two seasons who have walked, gotten hits and especially hit home runs at the rate that John Mayberry has with the Phillies over the past two seasons. Another thing that Mayberry has done with the Phillies over the past two seasons is have a large percentage of his hits go for extra-bases while hitting for a relatively high average.

In 2010 and 2011 combined, Mayberry has gotten 309 plate appearances with the Phillies in which he has hit .276 (77-for-279). Of his 77 hits, 17 are doubles, one is a triple and he has hit 17 home runs. About 45.45% of his hits over the past two years have gone for extra-bases.

How many players in either league in 2011 meet all three of these criteria: Got 200 plate appearances, hit at least .276 and had 45.45% or more of the hits they did get go for extra-bases? Two.

PA AVG % of hits XBH
Mike Napoli 432 .320 46.6
Matt Downs 222 .276 50.9

And in 2010? Four.

PA AVG % of hits XBH
Jayson Werth 652 .296 45.7
Miguel Cabrera 648 .322 46.7
Jim Thome 340 .283 55.1
Jim Edmonds 272 .276 50.0

Again, like in the previous post, it’s the high percentage of extra-base hits that make this group so tough to get into.

2011 2010
% of players with 200 plate appearances who hit .276 or better 29.6 32.4
 . . . who had at least 45.45% of their hits go for extra-bases 6.8 8.4

In each of the last two years, more than a hundred players have hit better than .276 across both leagues. In both season less than 30 saw 45.45% or more of their hits go for extra-bases.

This article suggests that Mayberry will spend more time in left than at first base early in the year. Again, the critical question to me seems to be who the Phillies are going to play at first against right-handed pitching if Howard is out and Thome can’t play first. Again again, it seems to me the best choice offensively is to play Brown in left and Nix or Mayberry at first, assuming that the lefty Nix is probably the more conservative choice but that Mayberry might have higher upside. That seems unlikely to me to happen, so I think we should brace ourselves for a significant amount of Wigginton at first against righties early in the year.

Ryan Howard took batting practice and has no time table for his return. He also suggests he might not get to full-strength until around the All-Star break.

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The company he kinda keeps

Point for today is that John Mayberry has hit home runs at a high rate with the Phils over the past two years.

Between 2010 and 2011, John Mayberry got 309 plate appearances with the Phillies in which hit to a 276/343/527 line with 27 walks, 77 hits and 17 home runs. In those plate appearances, he walked in 8.74% of his plate appearances, got a hit of any kind in 24.92% and homered in 5.5%.

Looking back at 2011, there were 355 players who got at least 200 plate appearances across both leagues. Of those, how many did at least as well in each of those three categories (ie, walked 8.74% of pa or better, got a hit in 24.92% or better and homered in 5.5% or better)? The answer is three.

Player BB% H% HR%
Matt Kemp 10.74 28.30 5.66
Albert Pujols 9.37 26.57 5.68
Mike Napoli 13.43 27.31 6.94

And how about among the 346 players that got 200 plate appearances in 2010? Four.

Player BB% H% HR%
Albert Pujols 14.71 26.14 6.00
Miguel Cabrera 13.73 27.78 5.86
Joey Votto 14.04 27.31 5.71
Paul Konerko 11.41 27.10 6.18

So it’s a rather exclusive group of offensive players. What makes it so hard to get into? The home runs.

For each of the two seasons, here’s the percentage of players with at least 200 plate appearances that got walks, hits and home runs at the same rates Mayberry has with the Phils over the last two years as a percentage of plate appearances:

2010 2011
% of 200 PA players who walked in 8.74% or more of PA 46.5 39.4
 . . . got hits in 24.92% or more of PA 27.7 30.1
. . . hit home runs in 5.5% or more of PA 3.5 3.9

Nearly half of the players with 200 plate appearances in 2010 walked enough to make the list. Between a quarter and a third in both 2010 and 2011 got enough hits. But less than 4% in each season hit home runs at the rate Mayberry did in 2010 and 2011 combined.

Notably, Mayberry himself doesn’t make the cut in either of the two years, only in the two years combined. In 2010 he only got 13 plate appearances. In 2011, he got enough plate appearances, enough walks and enough hits, but homered in about 5.1% of his plate appearances (15 homers in 296 plate appearances).

In 2011, there were 14 players who got at least 200 plate appearances and hit home runs in 5.5% or more of their plate appearances. Kemp, Pujols and Napoli had all three of the hits, walks and homers. Nelson Cruz, Chris Heisey and Brent Lillibridge had the home runs but not the walks or hits. Adrian Beltre had the home runs and the hits but not the walks. Seven players, Prince Fielder, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Jose Bautista, Mark Reynolds, Mike Stanton and Andruw Jones, had the homers and the walks but not the hits.

In 2010, four players had all three: Pujols, Cabrera, Votto and Konerko. There were eight players with the homers but not each of the other two categories. Stanton and Edwin Encarnacion missed on both walks and hits. Josh Hamilton got the hits but not the walks. And five players, Bautista, Adam Dunn, Russell Branyan, Jim Thome and Andruw Jones, got the homers and the walks but not enough hits.

Jose Contreras threw a bullpen session yesterday, did “fine” and “threw very, very well.” The same article says that Chad Qualls has arrived in camp and that Justin De Fratus, who has had some recent tightness in his right elbow, started to long toss.

Brad Lidge sounds less than thrilled with what happened between him and the Phillies in the off-season in this piece.

Gary Sheffield worked with Domonic Brown on Brown’s hitting over the winter.

Shane Victorino, who will be a free agent after the season, says he loves Philadelphia and there have been no discussions about a new contract with the Phils yet.

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